Re: [unrev-II] Reception at SRI Honoring Doug's Award

From: N. C a r r o l l (
Date: Mon Dec 25 2000 - 20:51:39 PST

  • Next message: Dennis E. Hamilton: "RE: [unrev-II] Refactoring and information annealing"

    Adam Cheyer wrote:

    > > [Garold L. Johnson] Certainly there are more and better tools available
    > > today than when Doug built Augment! Of course, given that Augment was
    > Actually, I would argue that the existing tools and paradigms are much
    > more of a hinderance than a help, and are the real reason we haven't
    > made much progress to capturing the value and productivity that was
    > Augment. Let me explain.
    > In the 80s when programming for a DOS environment, only one program ran at a
    > time, and each program was written from scratch, from start
    > to finish: GUI, input/output, application functionality. As a
    > consequence, there wasn't much consistancy across applications, but
    > each programmer could rethink what made sense for his or her programs
    > in terms of look and feel and functionality.

    Ah, the halcyon days when coders thought about UI and users....

    > My belief is that the power of Augment came not from any one feature
    > (e.g., backlinks, viewing options), but rather from the integrated
    > WHOLE. Augment was an "operating system" inside of which all
    > applications lived: email, word processor, web browser, code editor,
    > ontology editor, graphic editor, etc. In today's world, thanks in part to
    > Windows, all of these are separate applications that share little --
    > in Augment, all of these blend into one system. Augment's true power
    > and its "bootstrapping" nature comes from the fact that every email you
    > write can be journaled, linked to, commented on. Every document you
    > produce can be shared with others and versioned. As you add a new
    > feature to Augment, all applications are instantly improved. Augment is
    > not a Windows application you run (or a website you visit), it's the
    > environment you live and work in. Few knowledge management systems work
    > well today because it's hard to encourage people to upload documents to
    > the "site" for others to view -- in the ideal system, you don't have to
    > visit another knowledge management site to update or search, you simply
    > live in the site all the time.

    Yep. The Windows version of Augment, visually more polished, is
    clunkier to use than the DOS or TOPS20 client. A case of "more is less."

    > As we work on Augment-like systems in the future using the latest and
    > greatest tools (web-based, windows-based, etc), I think it's essential
    > to think about not only how powerful they are but also what paradigms
    > ("boxes") they are putting us in and what we give up by using them.

    Charles Irby made the same observation recently. (He was the
    NLS project coordinator(?) for seven years.)

    He extended the observation to Java, wondering whether the benefit
    of huge bodies of pre-written code was a benefit at all. He said
    that, in retrospect, he thought NLS/Augment was the better for being
    written from scratch. (Mind that they even wrote their own language
    for NLS.)



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